Take a look at many of today’s luxury automobiles and chances are features such as GPS navigation systems, heated seats and authentic wood trim come standard. And while the customization and luxury upgrade trends displayed in the most sought-after vehicles has extended from wheels to seats to head rest monitors, there is one area of the interior that has bucked the trend and remained fairly consistent from model to model — until recently.
Already established as a fundamental component in automotive interior design, U.S. auto makers are now using Alcantara(R), commonly used to adorn seats, as a headliner to provide drivers and passengers with luxurious comfort and style from every angle. Commonly, a car’s headliner is made of lightweight, low-quality cloth that does little to enhance the interior. The use of Alcantara(R) is a notable departure from traditional headliner fabrics because of the high-quality material’s look, feel and functional benefits.
Cadillac is the first U.S. auto manufacturer to incorporate an Alcantara(R) headliner with its newly-unveiled Platinum Series. Available in 2007, Cadillac’s XLR Roadster features the upgraded Alcantara(R) headliner along with other significant interior modifications. “The Cadillac brand defines automotive luxury in the U.S.,” said Derick C. Fronda, Executive Director of Toray Ultrasuede America, Inc. “The use of Alcantara(R) as a headliner is an innovative approach to provide vehicle interiors that utilize the finest materials and fabrics from top to bottom.”
Alcantara(R) headliners have been used by foreign automakers such as Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Lexus, Audi and Porsche because of its style and functionality. The high-quality material which lines the interior of the roof helps to reduce noise from outside of the vehicle while improving the acoustics inside the vehicle, not to mention the benefit of an aesthetically pleasing passenger compartment. The use of Alcantara(R) headliners in U.S. autos demonstrates the initiative of manufacturers such as Cadillac to connect drivers’ need for performance with their desire for elegant and functional design.
However, the use of more luxurious materials such as Alcantara(R) is not exclusively reserved for the elite. More and more manufacturers are jumping on the trend and incorporating this extra touch of luxury to their models. At the 2007 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, several automakers showcased new models with Alcantara(R) interiors including Scion (as part of its tC Series 3.0), Subaru (in the Legacy 2.5 GT Spec B) and Chevrolet (in the Camaro Convertible).